While I don’t usually review a lot of walking simulators here on Geeky Hobbies, I am intrigued by the genre when it presents an interesting premise. When I first saw Paradise Lost I was intrigued because it combined an alternative history premise with Slavic mythology and a strange underground bunker. The trailer honestly kind of reminded me of the Bioshock franchise which I am a big fan of. Paradise Lost’s gameplay is quite limited which will likely turn off a lot of players, but underneath is an intriguing atmosphere built around an interesting alternative history story.
Paradise Lost takes place in an alternative Earth where World War 2 ended a little differently. The war lasted an additional 20 years and ended when the Nazis released nuclear weapons on most of Europe turning it into a wasteland. You play as Szymon a 12 year boy who is wandering the wasteland of Poland after the death of his mother. He is in search of a man who is pictured alongside his mother in a photograph. He stumbles upon an underground bunker built by the Nazis in order to outlast the destruction caused by the nuclear weapons. As you explore the bunker you hear a voice over the radio who asks for help. Can you help the stranger and discover what happened to the original inhabitants of the bunker?
I have never been a fan of the term walking simulator, but in the case of Paradise Lost it does a good job summing up the gameplay. For those not familiar with the genre, the premise is pretty simple. The gameplay relies pretty heavily on exploration. You basically walk around the underground bunker discovering what happened to the inhabitants. This mostly involves interacting with various objects and following simple button presses. There are a few very light puzzles (basically fetch quests), but that is basically all of the gameplay in Paradise Lost.
Walking simulators are arguably the most debated video game genre out there right now. Some people love the genre, while others debate whether they should even be considered video games. While they aren’t my favorite genre, I would not consider myself part of the later group. I mostly bring this up as your feelings towards the genre are likely going to play a big role in how much enjoyment you get out of Paradise Lost. If you have never liked this genre or are much more interested in gameplay over story, Paradise Lost is not going to be for you.
Ultimately the gameplay in Paradise Lost is quite limited. Basically the entire gameplay comes down to walking around and interacting with objects. You will also occasionally get prompts to push certain button combinations in order to open doors and perform other actions. The gameplay is not particularly engaging. You can play the game at any pace that you want as there is no way to fail in the game. In a way the game kind of forces a slow pace on you as your character walks far too slow. This gets pretty frustrating after a while. You could miss some objects that you could interact with, and there seems to be some alternative paths to explore. I would say that Paradise Lost mostly feels like an interactive story. If you aren’t really interested in the game’s story, there isn’t a reason to play the game.
As the gameplay is pretty limited, the question becomes does the story make up for it? I think this will depend on the person. Some people should enjoy it, while others won’t have much interest in it. Basically does the game’s premise intrigue you? If the premise doesn’t sound all that interesting to you, you probably won’t get a lot out of the story. What intrigued me about the game’s story is that I am a pretty big fan of the alternative history genre. There is just something that I find intriguing about stories where one change to history drastically changed the entire world. In a way Paradise Lost kind of gave me vibes of the Bioshock franchise which I am a big fan of. After playing the game I wouldn’t say that the comparison is perfect, but I thought it had a similar overall atmosphere as Bioshock.
I personally had some mixed feelings about the story. The story starts a little slow in my opinion. I would say that not a lot happens in the first hour or so. Part of this is due to how the game’s story is structured. I honestly found the story to be a little hard to follow at first as the game purposely hides some information from you. Most of your questions are answered as you progress through the story, but it does leave you a little confused initially. Once the story starts to pick up though, it becomes quite a bit better. I wouldn’t say that the story is amazing, but I enjoyed it and wanted to see how it would end. There are some interesting ideas, and it has enough twists and turns to keep things interesting.
I honestly think Paradise Lost’s greatest strength though may be the overall atmosphere. I was initially intrigued by the game’s alternative history theme and I think the game does a good job utilizing it. While you are exploring a bunker, I would probably classify it as more of an underground city. As you progress through the game you will explore various sections of the city which all look quite different. The game utilizes a steampunk/retro-futuristic style which creates an interesting environment to explore. This is the area of the game that reminded me the most of the Bioshock franchise. There are parts of the bunker that would have fit right in Rapture. The number of objects that you can interact with are pretty limited, but it is still pretty interesting to explore. It really feels like you are exploring an abandoned underground city.
With the type of game that Paradise Lost is, the length is going to depend quite a bit on what type of player that you are. Those that rush from objective to objective will obviously take considerably less time than those that really take their time to observe their surroundings. For the most part I would say that the length is comparable to most other walking simulators. The fact that you walk so slow is a contributing factor to the length. If I were to make a guess at how long it took to beat the game, I would say that it probably took me around 3-5 hours. If you rush through the game I would guess that it would go a little quicker. As the game is a walking simulator there is limited replay value. It did seem like there are a few alternative paths in the game and you do get to make a decision at the end of the game which impacts the ending. Outside of experiencing the story a second time though, there really isn’t much of a reason to replay the game.
I had mixed feelings about Paradise Lost. The gameplay is quite limited. You mostly just walk around and interact with objects. The gameplay is not really a selling point for the game as it feels more like an interactive movie than your typical video game. Thus your enjoyment of the game will come down to the story. I thought the game did a great job with the atmosphere as the locations are varied and interesting enough that you want to explore them. I felt a little more conflicted with regards to the story. It starts a little slow and takes a while to know what is going on. Once the story picks up though, I found it to be interesting enough that I wanted to see how it would end.
I think people’s opinions of Paradise Lost will differ quite a bit. If you have never liked the walking simulator genre or care more about gameplay than story, it won’t be for you. Those that like the genre have to consider how interesting the premise sounds. If the premise sounds interesting to you and you don’t mind the lack of gameplay, I think you should consider picking up Paradise Lost.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank PolyAmorous and
All in! Games for the review copy of Paradise Lost used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.